I guess it was too much to hope that Tyler Perry would send the old broad off in style.
He’s losing the dress, the fake chest, the wigs and the wildly uneven makeup and bidding everybody’s favorite auntie adieu with “A Madea Family Funeral.”
Decades of playing the character on stage, and screen — you can’t blame him for running out of gags, out of ideas and phoning it in. You CAN blame him for letting us SEE him phone it in.
He flings a funnier new Perry-in-heavy-makeup character at “Funeral,” a brother to his stand-bys, the preachy, threatening, Jesus mis-quoting, language-mangling Force of Nature Madea, and out-of-you-know-whats-to-give pothead/dirty-old man brother Joe.
Heathrow has no legs and an electrolarynx for his missing voice box. No, he didn’t lose that much of himself in ‘Nam. Blame “the diabetes” and cigarettes. It’s a funny effect and a great gag, making even limp lines the character growls
The film surrounding this unholy trio, their nephew Brian (Perry, out of drag) and Madea’s crusty running mates Hattie (Patrice Lovely) and Aunt Bam (Cassie Davis) is another Perry melodrama folded into Atlanta African American affluence.
It’s about a family of beautiful people — many of whom cheat. Madea and crew show up for an anniversary celebration just as the news that patriarch Anthony has died in the S & M clutches of a voluptuous and faithless family friend (Quin Barker).
Actually, they don’t “know” this. Only cheating Renee (Barker), cheating son Anthony (Courtney Burrell) and his brother’s fiance Gia (Aeriél Miranda) KNOW. They were having an assignation in the hotel room next door to Anthony’s bondage-games demise.
But the sharp-nosed Joe and Heathrow know. And Madea and her girls catch up. It’s all they can do to keep a lid on it when the widow, Vianne (Jen Harper) starts asking questions.Two
“Hotel?” Madea evades. “These ho’s don’t TELL.”
That soap opera stops the movie every time it moves front and center. Fortunately, Madea is put in charge of the hasty funeral.
“Two days? Black people do NOT bury people in two days!”
Perry’s pictures have always had outtakes which show his version of the “best joke on the set wins” tradition. The problem is, he’s not surrounded by funny people competing for the best line. It’s just him. And he’s run out of one-liners.
I doubt Davis and Lovely, the two hammy supporting actresses, come up with their own jokes. And everybody else Perry casts is a comic stiff. The melodrama is played straight — or straight-ish. Beautiful, buff shirtless black men and perfectly coiffed and made-up women who are the victims of these no good/no count yard dog males.
Boring characters boringly-played.
The big, multi-bedroom house and hotel settings, with all these cheaters, offer the promise of a “door slamming farce,” people stumbling into and out of rooms and the mistaken identities/intentions that follow. As comedy-savvy as Perry is, that’s beyond his dramaturgy.
His most promising homily is a scene in which young, professional Brian is schooled on the origins of “#BlackLivesMatter” when Madea instigates a traffic stop as he’s hauling them all to the party. Brian figures its a teachable moment on how Black people’s “compliance” would prevent all these police meltdowns and shootings.
Nope. Madea knows better. And Joe. Brian will, soon. But there aren’t enough gags there to pull the scene off, and like every other sequence in recent TP movies, it goes way beyond its comic payoff. His movies lack comic timing and pacing.
They’re slow, Joe.
His desperation to find a cheap laugh in many scenes has Joe doing something Classic Madea would never stand for — dropping the N-word for a giggle.
And there are continuity errors (including a doozy in the final act), blown lines and other signs Perry has moved on from big, brassy “Angry Black Woman” Madea.
I guess he’s letting us know we should move on, too.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude sexual content, language, and drug references throughout
Cast: Tyler Perry, Cassi Davis, Patrice Lovely, Courtney Burrell, Aeriél Miranda, Kj Smith
Credits: Written and directed by Tyler Perry. A Lionsgate release.
Running time: 1:44